Black History Month is an excellent opportunity to kick start your company’s D&I journey. This is more than a social post or “Happy Black History Month” graphic, although that is good too! But, why not take this month-long opportunity to focus on increasing awareness and knowledge about Black History and Black Excellence within your team. To help, here are five easy and affordable ideas to celebrate Black History Month in the workplace.
Honoring Black History Month in the Workplace
Before diving into specific Black History Month ideas, we want to reassure you of something. We believe that smaller companies and startups may hesitate to implement D&I tactics because they feel unattainable. However, diversity and inclusion are so much more about the day-to-day, than the one and done big-budget initiatives.
The value of your D&I initiatives comes from intention and dedication during day-to-day tasks and culture building. That includes recognizing and celebrating initiatives like Black History Month.
Black History Month actually began as “Negro History Week.” In 1926, Carter G. Woodson initiated “Negro History Week” in his passionate efforts to celebrate and share the achievements of Black Americans. Woodson chose to observe “Negro History Week” during the second week of February because it coincided with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass.
Since 1976, Woodson’s creation has been expanded and every February has been dedicated as Black History Month. However, there is a lot to unpack with Black History. Though Black History is American history, for centuries the contributions of Black Americans have been suppressed, ignored, and overlooked. That’s why, each year, since 1928, a theme is chosen for the duration of Black History Month. Past themes have included The Crisis in Black Education and African Americans and the Vote. The theme for 2022 is Black Health and Wellness. This theme honors Black scholars and excellence in medicine in addition to acknowledging medical rituals and unique practices in founded in Black communities.
How to Celebrate Black History Month in the Workplace
We’ve compiled a list of ideas for smaller organizations to celebrate Black History Month at work. These ideas can all be adapted to suit both in-person and virtual teams.
1. Share black history trivia
Share interesting, eye-opening, and fun facts with your team throughout the month, you can even leverage something like a Slack channel, Teams or other chat feature. For example, did you know there is a theme each year for Black History Month? The theme for 2022 is “Black Health and Wellness.” Sending a fact or two a week in your team Slack channel is a great way to keep the learning going all month long.
Or, your company can book a Black Excellence trivia game session with Weve. Throughout the game, you and your team can test your knowledge and learn more about Black culture and contributions from the Black community.
2. Explore your community
Visit historic African American sites and attractions in your area like a museum or a monument. This sort of adventure would be an awesome opportunity for some team bonding! Here in Atlanta, a great outing could be to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park complete with the beautiful “I Have a Dream World Peace Rose Garden” or stop into the incredible The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (“The King Center”) which has been a global destination, resource center and community institution for over a quarter century and is located here in Atlanta.
3. Support black-owned businesses
Order your next company lunch or team coffee run from a local black-owned restaurant or cafe. Another fun option for remote teams is gifting employees the “Minority Owned Medley” snack box from SnackMagic (one of our favorite snack destinations). This snack box is a great way to show employee appreciation and introduce your team to new minority owned businesses.
4. Encourage learning
Continued learning and development opportunities is one of the best things you can offer as an employer. During Black History Month, you can specifically share resources that can help educate your team on systemic racism, whether that be via research articles, podcasts, or videos. If you have a business book club (like us), you can pick a read written by a black author or one that shares black experiences or educates on black history. Click here to explore some reading options.
5. Create a team goal and mission
As a small and growing company, you have the unique opportunity to get your team deeply involved in your D&I and social responsibility goals. Gather your team together and determine a non-profit that (the majority) feels driven to support. Once you’ve identified an organization, you and your employees can set a goal together! This personalized experience may help motivate your team to prioritize and achieve those long-term D&I goals and boost morale.
Beyond Black History Month
Some of these ideas, like a book club or supporting black-owned businesses, are all small and tactical ways your company can sustainably work towards diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. These ideas and intentional efforts are simply building blocks, all with the purpose of moving your organization forward and building an inclusive company culture.
Ultimately, you want to create regular opportunities to have open, honest, and sometimes difficult conversations. Specifically, conversations about racism in your organization, city, and your industry. Look at national findings and start collecting your own data to see where you can improve and make a difference.
Explore more of our blogs to continue learning about diversity and inclusion in the workplace.